“My sugar addiction”

Aaaah sugar sugar sugar. This modern demon we are running away from. Maybe even more as the gluten (pretty much also public enemy Number 1 the past years).

Until a couple of weeks ago I thought I really had a sugar addiction. I made a few research on Google and social media and from what I saw, I wasn’t the only using that expression. Comparing the sugar addiction to cocaine addiction. Are you like me and heard about this scientific study comparing the effects of sugar and cocaine on rats? The first conclusion was that sugar had the same addictive effects on the brain than cocaine. What the hell, we have that thing everywhere on our food! But in the nutrition field (we could even say the scientific world) every information can be debated and be demonstrated wrong. Some scientists found this study on rats absurd and others mentioned the importance of not comparing too fast rats and humans.

I don’t know in which camp you are, neither am I, I am not a scientist. I just want to eat the best food possible (I want palatability and safety for my body).

This addiction idea has also been challenged quickly when I took an honest look at myself. I had to change my point of view and be less dramatic when I had a check-in with my coach. We talked about how I was managing my diet from Monday to Sunday, from all meals to also my snacks.

By the way, I can only recommend you to get a coach to do these super-efficient exercises. This talk opened my eyes about my consumption and the modifications I had to do (I will share that quickly).

I think I can spare you the traditional “but what is sugar, the different types and how to choose the best one”. You probably read or heard that in different places and don’t need me to remind you.

So, my situation I think, is the one of many people. I wasn’t eating a lot of sugar because I was addicted. I was eating too much sugar because my diet wasn’t balanced properly and I didn’t manage my anxiety and stress properly. Yep, when I would look in details:

  • I didn’t have enough proteins in my diet so my satiety levels were too low which led me to snacking too much.
  • My meals were not tasty enough so I would snack on cheese and sugary stuff to give myself some treats.
  • My portions were sometimes too big and other too small.
  • My breakfast and diner were not big enough.

That, for me, was the easiest part to modify because I like to cook and try new recipes. And if you are telling me I can eat more chicken and eggs, I can only be happy.

No, the difficult part for me was to understand the behavior disfunction behind my compulsive snacking. Because yes, when you snack out of boredom or stress and you binge a lot of crappy food in five minutes it is compulsive. I would know, I had anorexic and bulimic issues in the past.

I realized I was snacking out of my mind just talking with my coach. I was snacking in front of my computer when I was stressed by my work, my future, when I was bored and would just get busy this way. So, the solution was to balance my diet and calm my mind.

What helped me was a combination of meditating, drinking way more water and green tea, going for a walk outside and breathe fresh air.

I thought it would be extremely hard to stop eating so much sugar because I was snacking on biscuits and chocolate every single day. Every day. But at the end (it’s been 6 weeks, still a long way to go), it wasn’t that hard. So, I was really exaggerating, I wasn’t addicted to sugar, I just add a really bad habit. When you are doing something wrong since a long time, it’s harder to change it. Harder but possible.

I set up an easy exercise to succeed: I would have my chocolate and biscuits just once a week. With my diet and my little steps per day it was easy. When the first week was over and I realized I didn’t crave it that much I was super happy and proud of myself. I could easily repeat it. And I have been doing it for 6 weeks and it’s just getting easier.

Not only I got a mental boost, I also got a better skin, less swing moods and I lost 3 kilos (6 lbs)!

The more I keep this rhythm the easier it is getting and I am not craving industrial sugar that much. Every week when I am having my chocolate break, I am taking a smaller portion and I had to change of products because some of the things I was eating, are now disgusting me. When you get used to it, the taste of certain chemical products can make you feel sick and it’s not a nice feeling on your stomach.

So, if you want to reduce your sugar consumption, look at different parameters:

  • Are you consistent with your diet from Monday to Sunday, or are you eating well during the week and binge during the weekend?
  • Do you eat enough protein through the day (animal or vegetal, what matters is the total)?
  • Do you have enough variety and tasteful nutrients in your plate?
  • Do you experience stress and anxiety and how do you cope with it?

Once you answered all these questions, reduce your sugar snacks. Go slowly so you don’t feel overwhelmed or depressed. If you were like me, reduce your consumption to 5 days a week and step by step reduce to 1 or 2 days. Of course, if you can, go for really good quality foods when you want it. Chocolate with good cocoa, sorbet ice cream, homemade banana breads, etc.…

Good luck and keep it up!

Sugar alternatives

We all have our little weaknesses, I don’t know about you, but mine is every piece of food that is sweet. If it was healthy and possible to eat just chocolate it would be my case.

I think our tastes come from a place of habits.

I have never been a soda and chips girl. We never had sodas or any salted foods at my parent’s house, except for birthdays. My mom cooked very simple meals with natural ingredients. I remember we had ketchup on the table only on sundays to eat with our fries. She didn’t used much salt but spices and replace sugar with cannelle and other ingredients when cooking pastries.

She used to cook us home made cakes and I never got tired of it. I can’t talk about addiction but for sure I am a sweet-mouth girl. Whenever I am happy, sad, excited or stressed, I want to eat sugar.

I tried to suppress it completely of my food intake but it’s really hard because there is sugar … basically everywhere.

I am not eating white chemical sugar anymore but I need/like my sugar intake every week from different sources : chocolate, ice cream or cereal bars.

I am trying to suppress as much as I can because it’s a really toxic product to take. I have learned in different studies that’s even more addictive than cocaine. It also increase obesity tendancies, diabetese, mood and energy swings.

Like everything in life I think we can have it with moderation. To help you reduce your instake you can replace your white chemical sugar by :

  • Birch sugar : this natural sugar is found in vegetables lie cauliflower, plums and red fruits. It taste like chemical white sugar but it doesn’ t increase so much the sugar level in the blood after a meal. Careful with the quantity, if you eat too much of it you can get flatulences and diarrheas (not sexy but real).
  • Honey: this natural one has anti-inflammatories, antiseptics and anti-bacterials properties. You can put in your tea, yogurts, granola cereals and use with ginger it can help you to cure your cold sore.
  • Stevia : it’s been pretty famous the last couple of years. It comes from a South America plant Stevia Rebaundiana. It doesn’t contain calories and don’t attack the teeths. But it has a bitter taste so everybody doesn’t like it (hate it personnaly).
  • Agave syrup: it comes from a Mexican plant, taste like honey but it is more liquid. In addition of vitamins and minerals it also contains a lot of fructose sor careful with the amount you use.
  • Coconut sugar : it has the same sugary power as white chemical sugar but cost way more money because of it extraction process. It has also the same amount of magnesium, zinc and iron so keep your consumption reasonable.
  • Maple syrup: one of the best Canadian product I have ever eaten. You can use for pretty much everything with as pancakes, crepes, yogurts, tea…

A lot of sugar alternatives are not as healthy as we would think. A lot of these have a lot of fructose or are extracted with a chemical process.

The best advice I can give you is you try all of them with different recipes so you can feel what you like more and be reasonnable with the quantity.

Also keep in mind it’s a long process to reduce this consumption but it’s possible. I used to put 5 squares of sugar in my tea, I only put 1 spoon of honey on it now.